First impressions are everything. Weak handshakes, poor eye contact, and starting the 2019 NFL season 0-3 could dissolve any chance of leaving a good first impression.
Broncos, Week One
The Raiders kick off the regular season at home against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos finished 6-10 last season and signed Joe Flacco to be the team’s starting quarterback. Flacco does not seem to be the Broncos’ biggest offensive threat, but he will bring experience to the position, something the Broncos have been missing since the departure of Case Keenum.
Point of Emphasis
Phillip Lindsay appears to be the player to watch out for. In the Raiders’ loss to the Broncos in 2018, Lindsay rushed for 107 yards. In the Raiders’ victory over the Broncos, Lindsay rushed for 46 yards.
On the offensive side, the Raiders must run quick passing plays and double team Von Miller. The Raiders will few games if Derek Carr is not relatively comfortable in the pocket, but this is not one of those games. Carr should be coming into this game fairly confident as the Raiders have done whatever possible to ensure a safe pocket for him. This will also be Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams’ first chance to form an impression of Carr, and vice versa.
Prediction: Raiders 24-14
Chiefs, Week Two
The Raiders will return to Oakland for Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Two straight games against divisional opponents seems difficult, but not a lot about the 2019 schedule seems easy; but at least they are both at home!
It is a little difficult to find much to look forward to in this matchup. Based on last year’s numbers, advantages on offense, defense, and special teams go to the Chiefs.
However, due to Kareem Hunt’s departure, the Chiefs now have a weakness. With the weakness being the running game, the Raiders can succeed by shutting down Patrick Mahomes and forcing the Chiefs to run the ball. While this is improbable for most teams, there is one other option: Big 12 Football.
With the improvements the Raiders have made on defense, the team could have a chance to stick with the Chiefs in a shootout. Fans were able to see what a shootout should look like in the AFC Championship game last year.
That being said, as long as the team plays well, losing this game is not much to panic about.
Prediction: Chiefs 38-27
Vikings, Week Three
The Raiders’ final game of the first quarter is also their first away game and the team will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. This game is the second game of the hardest four game stretch the team will encounter.
Not only are the Vikings an incredibly strong, defensive team, they also boast the 5th loudest stadium environment in the NFL.
The Vikings’ defense is league renowned as one of the best, but their offense is improving as well. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are quickly stirring up fear around the league as well.
This game can be thought of as the first true test for the Raiders. The Chiefs resemble juggernauts, but the Vikings might be a step or two below, making this a “feeler” game for the Raiders to truly see where they stand as a team.
Other than the first game of the season, this will be the game where fans can start forming impressions about the entire season.
The stadium will be deafening, but the Raiders will shake off the nerves of a new season by then.
Prediction: 21-10 Vikings
A 1-2 start is not ideal, but it is still an improvement from last season. 1-2 can still end up as 14-2 when the regular season is said and done. I feel as though the Raiders have many surprises in store this year. There is no implications that all surprises will be good ones, but if you are expecting a surprise, the surprise becomes far less of one.